This Lentil Dal with Spinach Sauce is one of the most delicious, soul-satisfying plant-based, Indian meals! This version is fragrant, flavorful and packed with nutrients- think of this like Saag Paneer, but substituting black lentils instead of the cheese! Super tasty and healthy. See 30-Second Video!

A healthy recipe for Lentil Dal with Spinach, sometime called Saag Dal, this is bursting with authentic Indian flavors!

This recipe for Spinach Lentil Dal, which I’ve nicknamed “Emerald Dal” because of its beautiful rich color was such a comforting meal to make this week. Somehow it feels so grounding and nurturing.  Not only is it wholesome and nutritious, but it is also bursting with authentic Indian flavor -and honestly, I can’t wait to make it again!

To make this Lentil Dal with Spinach Sauce you’ll need a full pound of spinach. You can use frozen spinach if you like but fresh spinach is in the season I am taking advantage of it.

How to make Emerald Dal | 30-second video


How to make Spinach Lentil Dal

prepping the ingredients

Step 1: Chop the onion, garlic, ginger and chili pepper. If you like heat, add more chili pepper.

chopping onion, garlic, chilies and ginger

Step 2: Saute the onion garlic & chili pepper in ghee and add the spices. Feel free to use coconut oil, but ghee truly elevates this dish.

Here I’m using black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and garam masala which you can make at home.

sautéing onion, garlic and ginger and green chilies in ghee

Step 3: Then add the fresh spinach, a little water, cover, and wilt over low heat for just a few minutes.

add spinach to the pan and wilt it

A pound of spinach will wilt down into about 2 cups- if that. 

wilting the spinach for spinach lentil dal

Step 4: Blend the spinach sauce with a little water to form a spinach puree. It doesn’t need to be smooth unless you prefer it that way. Look how bright and green it is!

blending the spinach sauce for the dal

Step 5: Pour the spinach sauce back into the pan- and don’t overheat this or you will lose the gorgeous color!

fragrant green spinach sauce in a pan

Step 6: Then fold in the cooked lentils I add somewhere between 3-4 cups of cooked caviar lentils.  And I love these little black lentils most of all because they cook so quickly!!!

cooked lentils

TIP #1: I cook lentils using the pasta method. Cook in ample salted water until tender, then strain. That way you don’t have to have exact measurements with the water to lentil ratio. It is very forgiving!

TIP #2: Using 3 cups of cooked lentils (instead of 4) will lend a “saucier” (more flavorful) dal which I prefer. But if you have 4 people in your family, I’d just add another cup of lentils. 🙂

spinach lentil dal in a pan

Step 7: Then stir in a little plain yogurt which will add creaminess and a touch of tanginess.

stir in the yogurt

Step 8: Taste. Adjust salt and heat to your liking. You want this slightly salty if serving over rice. A little squeeze of lemon or lime juice is nice here too!

Tip #3: Remember, do not overheat the spinach lentil dal or you’ll lose that lovely vibrant emerald color!

making naan bread

Tip #4: At the same time as I’m making the dal- I’m also pan-searing naan bread, and cooking basmati rice to go with it.

fluffy BASMATI RICE

Spinach Lentil Dal- lovingly called Emerald Dal here at home…a simple and tasty combo that can be made in 30 minutes if you cook the lentils ahead!

Yes, you can eat it like lentil soup if you prefer. 🙂

A simple healthy recipe for Spinach Lentil Dal in the most fragrant Spinach Sauce, infused with mint and Indian Spices. Authentic flavors!

What to serve with Lentil Spinach Dal?

  1. Basmati rice
  2. Naan Bread
  3. Indian Potatoes and Cauliflower 
  4. Instant Pot Tikka Masala 
  5. Raita!
  6. Mint Chutney 
  7. Indian Butter Chicken
  8. Rajasthani Potatoes
  9. Authentic Chai!
  10. Chai Cookies! 

A simple healthy recipe for Spinach Lentil Dal in the most fragrant Spinach Sauce, infused with mint and Indian Spices. Authentic flavors!

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Enjoy the grounding, nourishing Spinach Lentil Dal this week and let me know what you think in the comments below!

xoxo

Sylvia

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A healthy recipe for Lentil Dal with Spinach, sometime called Saag Dal, this is bursting with authentic Indian flavors!

Spinach Lentil Dal Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 122 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 1x
  • Category: vegetarian, main, legumes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Spinach Lentil Dal Recipe- an Indian lentil recipe with a flavorful spinach sauce that is full of flavor and nutrients and that can be made in 30 minutes. Serve with Basmati Rice, and naan bread!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Instructions

  1. If cooking black lentils and basmati rice, start them first (see notes)
  2. Make the Spinach Sauce: Sautee the onion in ghee, in a large pan, over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, then add garlic, ginger and chilies. Saute until fragrant and golden. Add the fennel seedsmustard seeds, cumin seeds and garam masala and stir two minutes. Lower heat to low. Add the fresh spinach, fresh mint, fenugreek and 2 tablespoons water. Cover pan, 2-3 minutes, letting spinach wilt. Give a few stirs. Don’t overcook!
  3. Blend Spinach Sauce: Place the wilted spinach mixture in a blender and add the 3/4 cups of water. Pulse and few times (hold the lid down tight). If you want a smooth sauce, blend until smooth. I left a little texture here.  Pour it back into the pan, set on low heat. Don’t overheat or you will lose the pretty color.
  4. Combine: Stir in the yogurt, lentils and salt. Taste. Adjust salt to your liking, adding more if necessary! You want this slightly more salty because you are serving over rice which will mellow it out a lot. For more heat add a pinch of cayenne or chili flakes. To “up” the flavor even more, add a bit more garam masala spice to taste. If you want a little acidity a tiny squeeze of lemon is nice.
  5. Serve with the basmati rice and naan bread!
  6. Emerald Dal will keep up to 4 days in the fridge.

Notes

Cook black lentils according to package or try the pasta cooking method: simply boil 1 1/4 cups dry lentils in 6 cups of salted water until just tender, strain. The size of lentil will determine cooking time. Little black lentils take 20-30 minutes. Feel free to sub other whole lentils for the black lentils.

SPINACH: If using fresh spinach, be sure to use baby spinach, as mature spinach and their stems can be bitter.

Yes, you can sub coconut oil or butter for the ghee- but in my opinion, the ghee really elevates and adds so much flavor.

Feel free to bump up the spices and heat (add more chilies and spices).

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 ¼ cup
  • Calories: 360
  • Sugar: 5.1 g
  • Sodium: 694.7 mg
  • Fat: 9.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 49.7 g
  • Fiber: 10 g
  • Protein: 22.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 19.9 mg

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Comments

  1. Hi Syliva,

    Firstly I have to say thank you, as because of you I just tasted the best meal. I had this year so far, hand down in the top 3 meals best meals I ever made and ever eaten. Every bite tasted like heaven, so much so I couldn’t help but wonder if this is life on earth, I wonder if heaven is just as wonderful. Honestly amazing. A little tip, if I may, I made this the day before and had it in the fridge to marinate and infuse over night. As I find with most meals, a day after or more. And it’s even better then when cooked. Lastly, I also want to say am glad that your able to showcase vegan based recipes and substitutes in your recipes. This is why your site and emails always get me excited to what might I try this week. So thanks again and keep them coming.)






    1. Awww… thanks so much and I’m happy you enjoyed this. Yes, many bean/legume recipes seem to get even better with time. 🙂

  2. Hi Sylvia,

    This looks delish, planning to make tonight! The recipe as written says to add water at both step 2 and step 3. Could you please confirm that it’s 3/4 cup total, and which step to add? Thanks!

    1. Hi Hallie- Thanks, and I see the confusion and updated the recipe. You add water at both steps- 2 tablespoons, then 3/4 cup.

  3. This is one of my favourite recipes! Seriously, thank you. I made a few substitutions using what I had or could get and it was still amazing – a small 6oz can of coconut milk instead of the yoghurt (I’m lactose intolerant), green lentils, no fenugreek leaves, ground cumin instead of seeds, and yellow mustard seeds. I love the leftovers with lime juice and coriander to brighten it up!






  4. I know that I say this with each feasting at home recipe that I try, but really…this is my NEW favorite! I make South Asian cuisine on a regular basis but this recipe’s flavor to effort ratio can’t be beat!

    I’m looking forward to eating it again tomorrow!






  5. My 2 year old loved this! We used frozen spinach, doubled the spices and served with basmatti rice and extra yoghurt.






    1. Hi Maud! Stems are fine- as long as you are using baby spinach ( with just 1-inch of little stems).

    1. You could just leave them out. They have a bit of a horseradish taste- maybe if you have some on hand the tiniest little 1/4 teaspoon of horseradish? Otherwise, skip it!

  6. made this numerous times for my sons. Am invited to visit friends and want to make in advance to bring along. What is the best way to heat it up not to lose the pretty coloraturas

  7. Delicious! I nearly doubled the ginger for a serious bite (and didn’t regret it, though it was powerful, lol). Also tossed in some roasted red bell pepper for color. My 10yo said it’s better than the Indian restaurant on Venice Beach. Another winner Sylvia. 😃






  8. Loved it, even without having ghee or mint available.
    Nourishing and easy to make.
    Also a good recipe to make in advance for the week.






  9. This was delicious. Used Trader Joe’s precooked lentils for a quick substitute, which worked great. Leftovers were maybe even better as flavor deepened. The color was unbelievable.






  10. This was such fun to make and the flavor is just gorgeous. I served with brown rice and naan. This will go back into rotation for sure.






  11. Yum. Made me realize Indian doesn’t need to be so intimidating:-) Just wish we could get our seven year old to eat it!

  12. Going to make this week. I’m not a huge fan of mint – if I leave it out is there a substitution you’d recommend?

    1. Hi Kathleen- the mint really really adds here. I guess you could try cilantro or flat-leaf parsley but if you are “just on the fence about mint” I would try it.

  13. This is one of the best Dal recipes I’ve ever had. I love how fresh it tasted. I also like the idea of blending all the ingredients for the sauce. Such a flavorful recipe. Thank you for coming up with such great tasting recipes.






  14. I have to laugh at myself as the Universe keeps reminding me to be aware. I halved this recipe for just myself and missed that the 2 cups were COOKED lentils not uncooked. You even wrote it in bold print, Sylvia. Regardless, I was able to get away with it as I added the full amount of seasoning as people kept saying it needed a bit more punch. The result was 3 to 4 meals worth of lentils with spinach…teeheehee. Very tasty nonetheless and lesson learned. I will attempt this recipe again as written especially when I find some fenugreek leaves.






  15. I was surprised to REALLY like this one. I made myself make this because I had a lot of spinach to use up. I was skeptical because I don’t especially love spinach. Using ghee is definitely key to the success of this recipe. I also toasted some paneer cheese seasoned lightly with curry powder and added this to the dal. This dish was a big hit with me and my husband. Would highly recommend it.






  16. My husband and I worked together to make your delicious Emerald Dhal – and we loved it! So tasty and so filling. Your instructions for everything were really helpful and we had fun in our new kitchen! Thanks so much! I hope its fine to freeze the leftovers as we had a fair bit left over 😁 – gotta love leftovers!






    1. Congrats on your new kitchen…exciting! Gald you liked this. Yes, should freeze fine!

  17. Beautiful & delicious! I’m an avid home cook but just discovered your AMAZING website! Thank you so much for the time and love you’ve put into this! I just got an instant pot, and your recipe collection will be invaluable. All your other collections look fabulous, too! Can’t wait to share these with my wife, kids & friends.
    I would love to see a physical cookbook with your creations!






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